Dental anxiety is the fear of the dentist, dental setting, or tools and equipment used in dental procedures. The sound of a dental drill, the dental chair, or the metal tools used by dentists can trigger fear in children.
Your child may have developed dental anxiety after a bad experience with a dentist or heard horror dentist stories from people around him or her. Getting your child to go to the dentist can therefore become an uphill task. If the situation isn’t addressed early enough, it can affect your child’s oral health and even make them avoid dental appointments altogether when they grow up and are no longer under your care.
If your child suffers from dental anxiety, you can help them manage their fears through the following ways:
Have A Family Dentist
Having a family dentist would be better for your child instead of changing dentists every now and then. When your child gets used to the same doctor, they’ll be comfortable around him or her and their dental anxiety will reduce over time. Having a family dentist will also be an advantage because they’ll be able to deal with your child’s dental issues effectively as they’ll have their dental records and history. Dental clinics like Aria Dental have built a reputation by offering high-quality dental services.
Arrange A Pre-Meeting With The Doctor
Children tend to trust and loosen up around people they’re familiar with. Having your child meet and have a chat with the doctor before a dental appointment will help lower their anxiety and build their trust in the doctor. The meeting can be held one on one or through a video call.
Familiarize Your Child With The Dentist’s Office
Taking your child to the dentist’s office to see what it looks like and meet the staff working there can help reduce your child’s anxiety. Allow them to walk around, sit on the dental chair and ask questions. It will help address their fears.
Arrive Early At the Doctor’s Office
Arriving early at the dentist’s office when your child has an appointment will give them enough time to settle in and relax. Rushing through an appointment can have a negative effect on your child’s nerves. It’ll build their anxiety and heighten their fear.
Pretend playing with children is always a way to teach them new things. You can pretend-play with your child using a dentist’s office as a model. Take your child through all the processes you will go through when you visit the dentist right from the reception to the doctor’s office. You can even purchase a play dentist’s set to be more elaborate. This will greatly reduce your child’s dental anxiety when they know what to expect at the dentist’s clinic.
Inform The Doctor Of Traumatic Experiences
Let the doctor know in advance about any traumatic dental, neck, or back experience your child may have experienced. Inform the doctor of any sensory issues they may also have, like agitation from certain sounds. This will help the doctor understand them better and know how to make them more comfortable when dealing with them.
Visit The Dentist Regularly
You may schedule your child’s dental appointments far apart thinking it’s the best way to help them deal with their anxiety. Contrary to your thinking, that’ll increase their anxiety every time they have a doctor’s appointment. Regular visits to the dentist will familiarize your child with that environment and soon they’ll realize that they have nothing to fear. Spacing out appointments far apart can also negatively affect their oral health.
Deal With Issues Immediately
It can be difficult to deal with your child’s anxiety and pain at the same time. Don’t wait until your child is in pain to visit the dentist otherwise, they’ll associate a dentist’s office with pain. It’s important to address your child’s dental issues before they escalate.
Bring Along Your Child’s Favorite Toy
Children draw comfort from stuffed animals or their favorite toys. Bringing along your child’s best toy can offer comfort and reduce their anxiety when you take them for a dental appointment.
Apply Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can help your child with dental anxiety. Simple breathing exercises like taking deep breaths with their eyes closed and exhaling slowly can be done in the car, on your way to the dentist, or when your child is in the dentist’s chair ready to be attended to.
The doctor’s gentle voice during a procedure can also assure the child that all is well.
You should start taking your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear or before their first birthday. That way, they’ll get used to that environment and won’t grow up with the fear of dentists. Choosing a family-friendly dentist can also play a big role in alleviating your child’s dental anxiety.
Teach your child the importance of oral health. It’ll help them understand that dental visits are necessary which will change their perspective of dentists.